Osterman Research Blog

Some Thoughts on Lotusphere
February 3, 2011, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Lotusphere, IBM’s annual conference for all things messaging and collaboration, was held last week in Orlando.  It was my fifth Lotusphere – always a good and informative conference held in a place that gets a bit more sun than our home base of Seattle.  Here is my two cents on this year’s conference:

  • I did not see attendance figures, but the show seemed busier and better attended than last year.  The keynotes were very well attended, particularly the Monday morning session that began with Kevin Spacey’s appearance, and the exhibit floor was packed at times.
  • The focus of the conference was on social business – using social media as a means of growing business, enabling decision making and making business more efficient.  I really liked the focus of beginning the communication and collaboration discussion with personal interaction instead of technology, in large part because it aligns with the way that I think technology should be used in the context of how people interact.
  • People tend to exhibit enormous levels of inertia – they are resistant to change and tend to do pretty much what they want in the workplace regardless of the technologies or policies that are in place.  Using that tendency and adapting the technology around the way that people are going to work anyway is more effective than implementing technology and then trying to mold people around technology or work processes.  That seemed to be one of the foci of the event, and one that resonated with me quite well.
  • Also interesting was a rather frank admission from Jon Iwata, IBM’s senior VP for marketing and communications, that IBM’s senior management did not initially embrace the notion of social business.  When it was first introduced, the naysayers outnumbered the proponents, citing the risks of lawsuits, losing intellectual property, the loss of key personnel to poaching by competing firms, etc.  It took quite a bit of effort to achieve the acceptance of social business by key decision makers.
  • There was quite a bit of emphasis on the cloud as you might expect with IBM’s push of LotusLive and other cloud-based offerings, including LotusLive Symphony – a direct competitor to both Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365.  The online version of Symphony, expected to launch later this year, will be an interesting adjunct to the growing base of cloud offerings from IBM.
  • Ed Brill, Lotus’ director of messaging and collaboration, noted that Notes/Domino is holding its own in the market – not growing its share relative to other offerings, but not losing share either.
  • Lots of emphasis on smartphones and tablets – the new RIM PlayBook was featured prominently.  IBM is developing for a variety of platforms, but seems to be putting most of its efforts into the Android, Apple and RIM smartphone and tablet offerings.  On a side note, I saw more iPads than at any conference I have been to recently.  This was the first conference at which I used an iPad almost exclusively – extremely impressed with its battery life despite significant use.

In short, Lotusphere was a very useful conference and, as always, is on my short-list of events to attend each year.


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